Dealing in experimental and technologically inquisitive arts, MoTA serves as a production vehicle for music concerts, audiovisual acts, visual art exhibitions, public interventions, art residencies and an abundance of other artistically-charged activities (as of 2017, it also bestows the TESLA Award). Its programme predominantly takes place at various Ljubljana venues, yet also on the web and very frequently around the world.
This non-profit cultural organisation was founded in 2007 as a continuation of the CodeEp art collective and enterprise. Besides partaking in various international endeavours, MoTA cooperates with dozens of Slovenian organisations, venues and festivals, among them Speculum Artium Festival, Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory, Sploh Institute and Kino Šiška.
MoTA styles itself as a museum without a permanent collection or a fixed space, but as of 2013, it does run its own venue. First, there was the now-defunct MoTA Point, which housed a dense programme of concerts and exhibitions and was used as an occasional working space for resident artists and workshops. It closed in spring 2016, but a new location was established in the Šiška neighbourhood soon after, called the MoTA LAB.
Presentations of MoTA’s bigger productions take place at the Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture.
Music, sound art and audio-visual productions
Since its inception, MoTA has been running a diverse programme of concerts, focusing on contemporary electronica and improvised music. As a part of the Sonica Series, the Spring Festival (2001–2012) and several of its more sporadic projects, it booked the likes of Fennesz, Senking, Blixa Bargeld, William Basinski, Teho Teardo, Keith Rowe, Plaid, Clark and many others. In a somewhat different vein the Sonica Classics series stages artists like the minimalist pioneer Charlemagne Palestine, the idiosyncratic lute player Jozef Van Wissem, and the cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir. For a time, MoTA also organised live cinema events (held primarily at Kinodvor Cinema) called CinemaScapes. Some of the featured artists were Olga Mink and Scanner, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Mira Calix and Byetone.
MoTA’s largest activity is the annual Sonica International Festival of Transitory Art. Featuring AV and music performances, art installations and lectures, Sonica presents artists like Tim Hecker, Rashad Becker, Emptyset, Marina Rosenfeld, Herman Kolgen, Ryoichi Kurokawa and Random Logic. The festival traditionally utilises different Ljubljana venues such as MoTA LAB, Slovenian Cinematheque, Tovarna Rog, Križevniška Church and Klub K4.
Installations and other contemporary art projects
MoTa boasts an extremely varied programme of art projects that frequently, in one way or another, feature sound among their primary components. Some of the featured artists are Nonotak, Oliver Ratsi – ANTI VJ, Karina Smigla Bobinski, Nik Nowak, Jan Vormann, Les Liens Invisibles, Bram Vreven, Svetlana Maraš, the Greta Rusttt arts collective, Lenka Đorojević and Matej Stupica (who presented the OHO-awarded installation Nevromat) and Irena Tomažin (with her audiovisual installation Faces of voices / noise, inspired by the question “What would a portrait of a certain voice look like?”). Many of them were invited to hold lectures, set up workshops and cooperate in the Artist’s Talk discussions.
Martin Bricelj Baraga art
Martin Bricelj Baraga, the director of MoTA Museum, is a highly prolific author himself. His works are often large-scale installations set in public spaces and unusual architectural contexts.
Among his works are The Cyanometer, a monolith that gathers data of the blueness of the sky and the quality of air and visualises them; the Moonolith, an interactive monument that reflects the Moon and star constellations on its surface; the Darkstar, a large interactive piece on which more than 30 artists, programmers, architects and musicians collaborated; and RoboVox, an 8m-high robot set on a public square, to whom one could send telephone messages which he would then read aloud.
Bricelj Baraga collaborated with the renowned musician Olaf Bender (aka Bytone, DE) on a kinetic sound sculpture consisting of a matrix of 99 black balloons and called Neunundneunzig (99). He also collaborates with MoTA’s producer Neja Tomšič on Nonuments, a long term project of research and artistic production that deals with monuments, landmarks and other symbolically-laden public spaces. In addressing this topic, Tomšič was awarded a fellowship at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, with which they realised the Nonument 01: McKeldin Fountain project in collaboration with Lisa Moren and Jaimes Mayhew at the Transmodern Festival in Baltimore.
Bricelj Baraga has presented his works at Némo (FR), Kinetica Art Fair (UK), TodaysArt (NL), Glow Next (where Baraga got awarded the first prize in 2013), ICA (UK), Galerie Fernand Leger (FR), Sonar (ES), Columbia University (US), Fact (UK), Centro Cultural Recoleta (AR), Kunsthaus (AT), Kaapelithas (FI), etc. His works have been written about in such media outlets as Wired, Architecture Daily, Design Boom, boingboing.net, Pecha Kucha, New York Art Magazine and Harper Collins.
MoTA artist agency
MoTA has a longer history of representing artists abroad, starting with the director Martin Bricelj Baraga himself. Other artists collaborating with MoTA include Irena Tomažin, Miha Ciglar, and Neja Tomšič; they have been featured in the High Zero and Transmodern festivals (US) and hosted by the Current Gallery in Baltimore.
The year 2015 marks MoTA’s semi-official entry into the art world as an agency, primarily with the aim of promoting the SHAPE platform artists (see below). The agency’s profile is accordingly broad and features audiovisual works by the Serbian duo WoO and Incredible Bob, large public scale installations by Bricelj Baraga and Nik Nowak, the London-based club act Spatial, and a selection of sound-based gallery works – Faces of Voices.Noise by the vocalist Irena Tomažin.
The SONICA x Series regularly stages events abroad to promote Slovenian and SHAPE artists on international stages. So far, SONICA x Series has taken place in London, Trieste, Venice, Wroclaw, Maribor and Baltimore.
Impermanent Museum collection
Over the years, MoTA has established its so-called Impermanent Museum collection Arte/Facts. Featuring a selection of works by artists that they’ve worked with since 2007, these are not really works as such rather than parts or residues of the artistic process. Some of the artists included are Jan Vormann, Karina Smigla-Bobinski, Adam Basanta, Zimoun, Nik Nowak and Stephen Cornford. MoTA presents this collection at art fairs, among them, the Supermarket Art Fair in Stockholm in 2015.
MoTA is (or has been) involved in various international networks and partnerships. Among them, T.R.I.B.E. – Transitory Research Initiative of the Balkans and Eastern Europe, which started as a residency network in 2012 and connected Ljubljana, Prague, Istanbul and Nicosia. It hosted more than 15 artists and researchers, organised two symposia and resulted in the publication Exercises in Transitory Art.
Another network in which MoTA is involved is Artecitya, which brings together artists, architects, town planners and citizens for, as they say, the aim of improving the quality of life in cities through technological and artistic innovations. Within Artecitya, MoTA is developing the Arcade Gallery, a sound gallery located in the centre of Ljubljana, which commissions sound compositions, especially for this location.
MoTA was also part of the ALIPI: Advancing Light-driven Public Interactions project, of the ICAS – International Cities of Advanced Sound network, of the GALA Green Art Lab Alliance project, the Swiss Music Day 2015, and numerous others. In 2017, it started with the MAPS – Mapping and Archiving Public Spaces, aiming to identify, map and archive public spaces that may be a part of our cultural heritage – yet identified as such.
Transitory network and the artist-in-residence programme
Since 2008, MoTA has been running an artist-in-residence programme in Ljubljana for media, sound or visual artists, curators and researchers. So far, MoTA has hosted and produced the work of more than 15 artists, among them Jorge Rodriguez Gerada, Felix Thorn, Julien Bayle, Lexa Walsh, Alex Toland, Gabey Tjon a Tham, Marina Rosenfeld, and Ohira + Bonilha. Some of these residencies have taken place in collaboration with Ljudmila – Ljubljana Digital Media Lab, for example, Nedine Kachornamsong and Yuri Landman. In 2010, MoTA established the Transitory Network of residencies in Eastern Europe.
The SHAPE platform
The SHAPE project is a 3-year initiative that (re)unites 16 European non-profit organisations active within the ICAS – International Cities of Advanced Sound network to create a platform that aims to support, promote and exchange emergent musicians and interdisciplinary artists with an interest in sound. SHAPE stands for “Sound, Heterogeneous Art and Performance in Europe”.
Forty-eight musicians and artists are chosen annually to participate in a mix of live performances, residencies, workshops and talks across member festivals and special events. Under the auspices of SHAPE, MoTA presented Slovenian SHAPE artists within the SONICA x Series in partnership with the Apiary Studios in London and Spazio Aereo in Venice.
The Artist’s Talk project
In 2010, MoTA launched the project Artist’s Talk, an online portal for publishing, disseminating and archiving high-quality video recordings of interviews and lectures given by artists, curators, theorists and others working in the fields of art, activism and theory.
Still an on-going series of live events, this initiative is a product of three contemporary art and new media centres from Eastern and Central Europe (MoTA Ljubljana, CIANT Prague and WRO Wrocław). It is based on the idea of the free distribution of ideas and knowledge. A partial result of the interviews conducted as a part of Artist’s Talk is the book Outerviews, first presented at the 15th WRO Media Art Biennale in Wrocław.
Tomaž Brate Reading room and Mediatheque
In 2009, MoTA and the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana opened a reading room and mediatheque in the Jakopič Gallery, which consists of a vast collection of books belonging to Tomaž Brate (1963–2008) as well as the MoTA book collection. The reading room serves also as the MoTA info point with information on resident artists, current, past and future projects, and archives.